Dealing With Differences

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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One very overlooked aspect of preparing, in my opinion, is being ready (and willing) to adapt to different social circumstances.

We are living in world where there is a big mix of nationalities, customs, religions, social ‘rituals’ etc.

So clearly it make sense to know your surroundings in order to adapt or blend in, or at least to know stuff to make your life easier when things go bad.

Forget right now about hating something or someone here, it is about knowledge that you can use in hard times. General hate is a wrong attitude, and can dangerously cripple your judgment.

Let’s use couple examples to make it more clear here what it is all about:

Scenario 1

You are living in peaceful neighborhood, but after couple of days of political instabilities in your region there are riots outside, and you see bunch of folks carrying signs about some political candidate (or party, or whatever) that you do not like, actually you hate them. But they are rioting, going through your street, smashing windows, setting things on fire etc.

You are outside, and you want to shoot them, you are angry. You attack them and after 5 minutes you are dead. End of your survival story. All plans about bugging out, BOL and everything are gone, you are gone right at the beginning of SHTF.

The real solution would be to hide or if not possible to join them for hour or two of yelling on the street, rioting and similar. When the mob has gone through your street you can bug out.

Scenario 2

Shit has hit the fan. It’s been some time and you have resorted to trading. You are in the middle of a trade. The trade is going good with the guys, they are dangerous bastards but you made a good deal with them.

After successful deal, they offer you whiskey (or whatever drink) but you offend them by refusing it, because you are principled and have been clearly  ‘anti alcohol’ for years, things go bad, and deal is off, or even worse you are dead.

Is it so hard to take one shot (of alcohol) if customs or expectations say it needs to be like that?

Scenario 3

You are bugging out, your BOL is 400 miles away from your home, your way their leads through another state (or even country) and on some vehicle check point you clearly show yourself as ‘different’ by wearing wrong baseball hat or T-shirt, or a small flag on your car mirror (You get the idea) or showing different political opinion, or simply some other difference than people who stop you.

And then you are in trouble. At the very least your bribe through that check point is going to be much higher, or you can have even bigger problems.


Sad truth is when SHTF first one who are going to be in danger are people who are different from the ‘majority’ in that moment and particular place.

It can be race, religion, political opinion. But it can also be much smaller and trivial things.

I saw people being beaten when SHTF just because they had long hair.

A book can be written about this topic, and examples are different for different regions in the world, but concept is completely the same everywhere . DO NOT attract attention by being different.

DO NOT say “I will do things only this way“!

Adapt and do what situation asks from you.

The point is about attracting attention (or trying not too) in the wrong time and place.

It make perfect sense to know customs of people around you, political opinions, social rituals etc. It is good to know languages, or at least accents, it pays to know, for example, what will attract attention to you on your way to BOL, maybe it is simple car sticker on your car?

Does that „vote (Insert name here)……” sticker still make sense on your bumper?

Stay “grey“, blend in. But being grey is not just about how you dress. it is how you move AND interact with people

Learn about people that you will have to deal with when SHTF. This does not mean that you need to ‘love’ or ‘hate’ them, not even like them, BUT know what will help or hurt you when dealing with them.

Knowledge is (again) key to survival.



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15 Responses

  1. Scenario #1: Unfortunately, I live in a neighborhood where simply flying an American flag would draw undue attention (my wife inherited the house). If it weren’t for the fact that my neighborhood is in steep, hilly terrain,

    Scenario #2 is very interesting. Perhaps your new trading partners are of a religion that actually forbids alcohol, and they offer you a shot of whiskey. Do they have shot glasses in front of themselves?

    Scenario #3: Even the type of vehicle you drive can be a problem. Again, in my area the vehicle of choice is a Toyota Prius with either a Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton sticker (or stickers, plural, depending on how “virtuous” the driver wants to be). I drive a red pickup truck. Oops.

    Conclusion: I’ve got to get out of here, and soon! Fortunately, I’ve got the area already picked out.

  2. Great article Selco, particularly like scenario 1. Just join in a make some noise then trail off. Also a good way to find out what’s going on.
    I live in Florida and there are political bumper stickers on cars from 12 years ago…
    Good stuff,

  3. It is common sense, but as noted sometimes we forget, are stubborn, or are busy worrying about what we think are bigger problems. Glad to have a “wake up”. And I have always thought INFORMATION is the most valuable commodity.

  4. Great way of putting the points! Easy to understand and trying to apply. Not uncharacteristically, in the SF, what they train for is how “to blend in” and to be the “grey man”

  5. Very wise words. Thank you Selco. Staying out of the lime-light is sometimes crucial to survival.
    When you are of a different skin color or blatantly different culture, there are small and subtle tricks that you can use to keep unwanted attention from you:
    1. Try to dress at least somewhat like the locals; dress modest and a bit on the poor side. Thugs in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Detroit, or Philadelphia will kill you just for your new Nike’s.
    2. Wear very few – or no rings and jewellry.
    3. If traveling through thug-ville, try never to display your cell phone – especially if it’s an up-scale model.
    4. Carry a “throw-away” wallet with just a few $$ in it with old unessential cards, photos, and stuff. If a thug gets the drop on you and demands your wallet – give the “throw-away” wallet to him. He will see the bit of cash and stuff and you will be on your way. But keep your critical ID’s and any larger amounts of cash in a hidden location on your body.

  6. Selco, this is a pretty good article.. Please share more on these topics.. Here’s what really stood out to me:

    “But being grey is not just about how you dress. it is how you move AND interact with people”

    For the most part, I noticed that people have all the guns and proper gear, but no adaptability or people skills.. They key is survival, ego and being inflexible will surely get many killed and buried right along with all of their expensive gear.. And that’s if it’s not stolen or stripped away from the body first..

    So please continue to share more of your experience and wisdom with us..


  7. GS

    Great ideas! I especially like the throw away wallet.

    Short story; was on vacation in Guadalaja. Went out one day in shorts holding a camera; got cat calls up the wazzu. Went out the next day in a long shirt with blouse and was not harassed whatsoever.

    Lesson: It pays to blend in no matter the environment.

  8. I remember reading about a man–I think in Peru–who was a missionary to the mountain people. He dressed poorly like they did, slept in the straw with his donkey at the inns, etc. But when he walked into one of them, the proprietor immediately addressed him as “patron” (boss). He struggled with this for days and asked one of his close friends why he was picked out as ‘not one of them’.

    The friend said “It’s because you carry yourself differently. Erect, proud. You do not look as if you have labored for years under heavy loads, stooping and weary like us.” This story stuck with me.

    And I agree with some other comments. It is hard to ‘blend in’ if your skin color is different. During our years traveling to India, we were conspicuously white and tall, especially in the poor rural villages and slums.

    But this is an excellent article. Do as much as you can to blend in. I am aware that we don’t, in our own neighborhood. It is poor (so are we) and druggy and uneducated (we are not either of those) but it is all we can afford. I know we are considered a target due to our perceived ‘richness’ and my husband’s disability (wheelchair). They have already stolen various articles from our yard and carport. The rationalization is that they need it more than we do (similar to stealing from a corporation…they can afford it…) We are gearing ourselves for the bad times ahead and realizing that we will have a fight for survival.

  9. I do hope you live in a Ranch style home for your husband’s sake. Please put up a decent lighting system and a video camera if you can. Get a security company sticker for your front and back door. Who do you know that has a contract with one of the 24/7 companies? If you are leaving items that can be stolen where the can be seen and taken, they may figure yiur place is a super soft target and easy to rob.,.my crazy friend a 60 something year-old friend, who lives in an almost all Black area of a major city has had some kick in the door events while he was in the kitchen cooking. Predator looked around and then left shaking his head. My friend is rather poor and a real bachelor type– lock your doors maybe that’s all it takes.

  10. @wildartist it is just as easy to be poor in a rural area as in the city. Small old farm towns can be really cheap places to live and the moral standards can be much higher, and your neighbors more accommodating, but you may have to “pretend” you are more conservative to fit in.

    And while skin color can’t be changed, “But being grey is not just about how you dress. it is how you move AND interact with people” still applies. You can’t tell me that there are no dark skinned Mississippi rednecks. It’s all about the moving and interacting part.

  11. All warfare (hot and cold) is deception. Be where your enemy does not expect you to be. Do what your enemy does not expect you to do. Appear as your enemy does not expect you to appear. Know your enemy as you know yourself, and you will prevail in a hundred battles. One that knows everything there is to know about the enemy is the one that will defeat him, without having to even engage him. Remember your Sun Tzu.

  12. Scenario 2 – what if you sensed that the drink was drugged (spiked?), and suddenly their whole “village” came out of no where and had your crew surrounded? What would/could you do? Thanks!

    1. I would die probably in that case if they want me to be dead. Point here is what they achieving by having us dead. If trough our trade job they clearly see that they can have much more good trades in the future with me that could sounds like better idea for them.

      But biggest and starting point here is that I would never go to the trade with so bad “odds” like me and my crew going to the whole village of “others”.

  13. I suppose after SHTF we’d have to leave behind our political, religious, philosophical ‘principles’ and just blend in, as a matter of survival. This will go against our inclination to stand fast to our beliefs, but adapting to a new world would demand it. This is a great example of an internal change we wouldn’t initially believe is necessary. Great work. Each time I read these articles I feel like I just dodged a future bullet … Whoa!

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