Had to go to the city yesterday (which I hate!) for an appointment at the VA hospital (which I hate as much as going to the city) but thought I would make the best of it by taking along the girlfriend and making a day out of it with some lunch and light shopping. Hey I’m not above shopping with the girl for two reasons. Firstly it gets me out on a nice day with someone I enjoy being with, and secondly I can “play” with the loss prevention personnel in a store.
First stop and I’ll only talk about this particular incident because the rest of the day was uneventfull : went to a DSW shoe store. I actually sat in the car for the first part of this (honestly I was tired and thought of taking a little nap). I scored a cool parking spot right in front of the store and facing the entrance. The girlfriend went inside the store. I could see every person that went in and out of that building through the great big windshield of my vehicle. As we pull in, there us a younger guy (early 20’s) standing in front of the store off to the left of the main door, talking on a cell phone (sorry didn’t think of taking a pic until later) polo type shirt, shorts, wearing NEW (let me underline NEW) tennis shoes, mirrored sunglasses, blue tinted lenses, and probably a couple other things I should have noticed. Oh and it looked like some kind of Android phone he was using, definitely not an iPhone, and black if you really want to know. When you talk on a phone you demonstrate facial signs with your? face! as you converse. Not this guy. Just a plain look on his mug, no smiling, frowning, gritting his teeth, no hand gestures. I also want to add and we tried this at EP school, try having a fake phone conversation with yourself and act “normal” you can’t do it for more than 10 seconds with out falling into the ya’s ,un huh’s, ya, un huh. It just don’t work. I resorted to calling someone I knew and let them know what I was doing and may need to hang up quickly. It works a lot better and looks natural.
Let me stop and do a side bar. In Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift Of Fear he talks about intuition and how as super smart bipedal humans we routinely take that primal instinct that is burned into our DNA and push it aside and let the brain take over and say: that’s not logical, that cannot be right, never mind that feeling, keep doing what your doing it will be fine trust me!
So what keyed me to this guy? A guy, standing in front of a shoe store with lots of foot traffic going in and out, on a phone, and wearing Fucking new shoes! that just popped a circuit breaker in my head. the shoes. I dunno, just the shoes kept rolling over in my head, this casual observation is all in about 20 seconds. Another thing that bugged me was there were nothing but women going in and out of the store, no dudes. We can logically (the brain thing kicks in and talks you out of it) say that he was waiting for his girlfriend/wife. Sure I can go along with that but why not wait in the car or walk behind her in the store making long sigh noises like he is bored and rather be at Home Depot looking at drills for an hour instead of shoes?
Then the guy walks across towards my vehicle and stands about 30 ft away next to a light pole looking at me (with mirrored sunglasses on) and with phone in hand. Next step I observe is the I’ll fake dial a number put the phone to my ear and not move my lips. Ok…. so maybe he was checking his voice mail. There is that rationalization creeping in again. I guess he didn’t take me as a threat put his phone in his pocket and walked away back into the main entrance of the store. Did I miss a step or do you normally hit a button to stop the call and then place it in your pocket? Now I’m curious, I’ll play your game. I get out of the car, walk into the store and spy him about midway through the building, he walks straight back and into the stores supply room. Burned dude! I caught ya.
Look I’m not any counter surveillance guru by any stretch and I am not even trying to portray that I am, all I am trying to infer is that paying attention to your gut (and your surroundings) then follow through. Don’t listen to your brain and then react. There was something amiss with this dude and it peaked my curiosity, I watched, paid attention and was surprised as to what I discovered. I worked my gut feeling and it paned out. The whole exercise from start to finish and just to prove to myself that there was something “weird” about a guy standing in front of a shoe store on a cell phone took less than 10 minutes from start to finish to figure out what he was really doing. He was just a store loss prevention guy doing his job in the end. But he made a fatal mistake. He didn’t blend into his environment and he had a bozo sitting in his car dosing off that had a gut feeling and was killing time anyway waiting for his girlfriend.
Here is an exercise that we did in EP school:
5 teams, one team goes outside and waits.
We have a room with 4 large round tables and 5 to 7 guys sitting at each. They are all just bull shitting, playing with their phones, scratching themselves like all guys do etc.
An instructor gives 1 or 2 people still in the room a fake sidearm and or a rubber knife. Only the instructor and the 1 or 2 people with the fake items know who has them and they keep them concealed, sit down at any random table and join in a conversation or scratch themselves but generally just try to blend into the landscape or crowd.
The outside team is allowed back into the ballroom and they are told to find the 1 or 2 people that have the sidearm/knife in less than 5 minutes . Each team member that was outside has to walk around the room observing the crowd and pick out the individuals with the concealed weapons stand behind their best guess and wait until the clock stops. Don’t say anything until the instructor asks why you choose your individual and explain. 99% of the time we were able to pick the guy(s) with the concealed weapons. Why? the face and the gut feeling. Every time the same thing was said. I had a feeling as I walked behind this persons chair, or he didn’t look right, or I felt he was hiding something. Every time! not a couple of times, EVERY TIME. Uncanny huh?
The whole purpose was to get used to looking at the face or a individual, or body language in a crowd and listen to your gut feeling. Not rock science really we all have it and only choose to listen to out intuition.
For a prepper how can I use this? A single woman? Think about it for bit before answering.
I can think of a lot of ways can you?