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#277194 - 10/21/15 08:40 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1404
Loc: North Carolina
The way I understand the concept of "the gray man" is that he draws no attention, blending not with the natural environment, but the human environment.

What draws attention, and makes you stick in the memory of people, is color, contrast and movement. Even in a crowd of people that are brightly dressed, being not so brightly dressed can help you be a gray man. You do not want to contrast with the crowd, just not be very bright. In human environments, moving in ways that do not flow with the normal movement patterns also draws attention.

The point is to be forgettable. When someone asks: "Do you remember seeing a guy that looks like this", the preferred answer is no. They may have seen you, but you just did not make an impact on their memory.

That said, wearing clothing that is similar in appearance (style and color) will generally not arouse much attention by itself. There are "shiny" people to, people who just draw attention by their behavior and how they interact with others. If you are one of those, try not to interact with people any more than necessary.

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#277203 - 10/22/15 03:21 AM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1379
The concept of being the gray man is more of an internet myth then real life thinking.

On your next commute to work, whether by car, transit or walking. Do you actually see someone purposely trying to be the gray man? In all likelihood, probably not. You are far more likely to see people dressed casually or dressed business casual or in full business attire making their way to work, shopping, out for a walk etc,

Even after big events such as 9/11, the northeast blackout of 2003 where 10's of thousands of people made their way home on foot, I don't recall seeing or reading where people changed their clothes and mode of thinking to gray man due to some further imagined threats to their well being.

Yes, a lot of people who were prepared, may of had a change of clothes or more comfortable shoes or boots but they were in the vast minority. Most simply and safely made their way home or to other alternate destinations with what clothes they had on without resorting to being the gray man.

That all said. If you wear a business suit into a rough and rundown area of town or conversely you wear a cutoff shirt, shorts and old dirty runners into the business district of any major city or area, you will stand out and will attract a lot more attention. Whereas someone who is dressed casually and who does not suffer from the mythical gray man mentality would easily blend into either area without notice.

Another similar subject. The other internet myth of being dressed in some type of a uniform with a hard hat or other prop such as carrying a clipboard in some crisis event is supposed to help you gain stature or access to something that the person standing next to you cannot...I don't buy it and never have heard of any reliable and verifiable source where this has occurred.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#277215 - 10/22/15 03:24 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: Mark_F]
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1020
Loc: Germany
If you stand out more, you´re not doing it right.
That can often be observed with geocachers. They tend to act suspiously inconspicuous.
_________________________
If it isn´t broken, it doesn´t have enough features yet.

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#277217 - 10/22/15 04:34 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1384
How would you be the gray man if you're black in a white neighborhood, or white in a black neighborhood, or the only non-Indian guy in a Diwali party where everyone is dressed colorfully and dancing? (Don't know whether there are Diwali parties. My knowledge of Diwali comes mostly from a TV show called *The Office*.)

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#277218 - 10/22/15 04:47 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
Jeanette_Isabelle Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1861
Loc: Emerald City, OZ
I believe the "grey man" is a Hollywood trope. In Men in Black, agents wore black suits, black ties and white shirts and drove black cars (unless they drive upside down) to "blend in." We see this in The Matrix. People wore black and white to "blend in."

Jeanette Isabelle
_________________________
"When you're up to your [neck] in alligators, it's hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp." -- Floridian proverb

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#277220 - 10/22/15 05:22 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
ireckon Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1628
Loc: Northern California
Generally, I enjoy buying clothes with brighter colors.

Sometimes, the best grey man is "hiding in plain sight". In the suburbs and urban environments, probably the best grey men are guys walking around with fluorescent vests fixing stuff. If they were wearing "boring" clothing while fixing stuff, they'd be more likely to have the cops called on them. I live in the suburbs on a court with little traffic. Anybody I don't recognize who is walking near my house automatically stands out. However, if a guy has a fluorescent vest with a "Comcast" logo, I would not think much about him, unless I'm really concentrating.

Another example of a grey man is a guy with a large DSL camera with a zoom lens in a crowd, like a concert, ball game, race, etc. Nobody really notices him. Or if people notice him, people expect him to be up front, in the way, etc. Add a badge around his neck, and he's even more grey.


_________________________
If you're reading this, it's too late.

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#277241 - 10/23/15 02:05 AM Re: Being the gray man [Re: ireckon]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1379
Originally Posted By: ireckon


Sometimes, the best grey man is "hiding in plain sight". In the suburbs and urban environments, probably the best grey men are guys walking around with fluorescent vests fixing stuff. If they were wearing "boring" clothing while fixing stuff, they'd be more likely to have the cops called on them. I live in the suburbs on a court with little traffic. Anybody I don't recognize who is walking near my house automatically stands out. However, if a guy has a fluorescent vest with a "Comcast" logo, I would not think much about him, unless I'm really concentrating


Thieves and other life criminal types often disguise themselves as utility or construction workers by wearing hard hats, hi-vis vests etc.

Any utility or construction worker in my neighborhood who does not appear to have a legit need to be there and seems out of place, certainly gets my attention.

Related links: (many more can be found via a Google search.)

Burglars in disguise in Mid-City

11 things criminals do when they pretend to be utility workers

Utility impersonators put neighborhood on edge

Home burglars dress up as utility workers

Burglary suspect caught

Suspect poses as worker in job site burglary

_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#277242 - 10/23/15 03:05 AM Re: Being the gray man [Re: Teslinhiker]
ireckon Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1628
Loc: Northern California
Maybe those workers get your attention, but I am speaking generally about most people.

I went jogging the other day. Some guys were working on some electrical wires in a box in the street. They had fluorescent vests and a professional looking truck. I made eye contact, waved, and kept jogging right past them. Most people would have responded the same way as I did. Personally, I would not be able to make it through the day if I was suspicious of every worker in a fluorescent vest.

If they had been wearing drab clothing, I would have been suspicious.
_________________________
If you're reading this, it's too late.

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#277245 - 10/23/15 07:01 AM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
quick_joey_small Offline
Addict

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 489
Loc: UK
I think people are confusing the wisdom of being 'the grey man' in some situations; with the need to be one all the time.
In my parachute regiment selection I certainly wanted to be the grey man. Come last in the runs and the sergeants will be thinking; 'weakling; we'll get rid of him'. Come in first and it'll be 'so he thinks he's fit does he? we'll break him'.

A grey man is the last thing anyone would want to be the rest of the time. Life rafts are orange for a reason.
A fire in the office and I want people to be thinking "joey's not here." at the gathering point.
qjs

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#277298 - 10/26/15 06:54 PM Re: Being the gray man [Re: TeacherRO]
TeacherRO Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2326
and it changes, walk a few blocks from my campus to downtown and your choices stand out. I like to keep it in mind when buying new gear -- not too tacticool.

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