When you leave your home, drive to work, visit the shops, even just walk the streets, how many times do you see the same vehicle, people, or person just hanging around?
For example, driving to the shops we always see the same unmarked plain gray car parked on an overpass, everyday, dawn to dusk. A single white male, watching the traffic. Or is he? The twin UHF aerials on the rear of the roof may have something to do with his motives. That and he doesn’t look up from a laptop.
OK, Radio ham computer freak with a fetish for breathing car fumes could be the innocent explanation OR could the average speed cameras not 10 feet from him pointing at the motorway he lords over be part of his purpose? Four ANPS cameras and him.
I often see a surveyor. Well I think he is.
Except this particular surveyor is either the slowest guy in the world or has a fascination for one particular street light. Wearing an official looking yellow safety vest, carrying the same clipboard, and touting a digital camera, it’s happy snaps every time someone walks past this street furniture.
So how do I know all this?
I’m an avid fan of people watching.
Yep, weird as it may seem I like to buy a coffee and sit on a park bench when it’s not freezing cold or raining and watch the people going about their business. You can learn a lot about folk, the area, and the daily timetable of some and establishments, especially if you are into profiling or just Intel gathering.
Does it draw people’s attention? Well no, unless you have a cute dog.
To that end I’ve got a technique and it’s one developed by bitter experience. I’m camouflaged and to most invisible.
How do I achieve that?
My steaming cup of coffee and the occasional pasty.
So now I’ve become a watcher and no one knows my motives or it seems even cares.
I could just be someone having a break from the stressful office?
Someone chucked out for the day from the hostel he is staying in.
I could be an international terrorist, a weirdo, or criminal picking out my next victim from the multitude of shoppers? Yet no one challenges me.
In todays CCTV heavy world there are two street cams that “cover” the bench I frequently sit on. In the quiet you can hear one of the motors whirring away as it scans it’s preprogrammed area of interest. 45 seconds SSE, 8 secs to travel to Due West for another 45 seconds.
You would have thought in the UK’s heightened security state where terrorists are walking the streets in droves, and criminals are apparently everywhere (according to the politicians and police) someone would have dispatched a LEO to ask what I’m doing.
Yet, no one ever does. No busybody asks me “why”.
No one sits down and “chats” like people used to, asking those random questions which always includes the “Are you local” one.
So have I become part of the street furniture and not a watcher?
Probably and totally by design.
Once on the streets, homeless, I was taught by my mentor that to become invisible you need to BE VISIBLE. Funny enough it stops a lot of unwanted, unwelcome, unwarranted, attention by being highly visible. People leave you alone. Sort of same place, same time, same actions (my coffee) is kinda reassuring to some.
In the city we all used to gather round a central point. You’ve probably seen the homeless do it, the “off ramp gathering” who after a while you just don’t see. A protection in numbers sort of thing where the “nice people of life” won’t intrude into.
Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the paper,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
Hand held loosely at his side
Yesterday’s paper telling yesterday’s news
Chorus: So how can you tell me you’re lonely,
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
Show you something to make you change your mind
Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She’s no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home in two carrier bags.
In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his teacup,
Each tea lasts an hour
And he wanders home alone
Have you seen the old man
Outside the Seaman’s Mission
Memory fading with the medal ribbons that he wears
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn’t care
So what do you see when you are watching, YOU PERSONALLY?
I see a lot but I’m often looking for something you may not be.
There are about 9 to 10,000 ex-forces personnel on the streets of the UK although the official line is that’s total B.S. and very few ex-service personnel are “abandoned” by the social services and charities.
Funny isn’t it, it takes an ex-mil to spot another, and a ex-homeless to see the signs some would rather you didn’t notice.
So take time off from your busy computer, smart phone, “must dash” life, and join the watchers.
LOOK, DON’T JUST SEE.
Why highlight that? A lot of people spend their day seeing things in passing not even registering what is there. Looking without seeing is how I put it. You miss so much, those little details of life, stuff which could actually save your life.
Only be careful as you may intrude into another watchers territory and be wrongly identified as a pervert, LEO, or “government spy”.
The homeless will spot you almost instantly and they can be territorial rather like some gangs are. That may lead to a challenge. Having said that, that in itself is good Intel. An area that is situational and people aware.
Slide that knowledge into the “don’t scavenge here” list.