Stuff that's hidden and murky and ambiguous is scary because you don't know what it does.
The Christmas season seems to bring out the "huh?!" factor in people. Several days a go, riding on a bike path along the light rail line in full police cycling uniform, two older gents pulled up beside me on their road bikes. One of them looked earnestly at me and said - "I see you're on a bike. Do you patrol the bike paths?"
Yesterday, dispatch sent a BOLO to our MDTs. That's a "be on the lookout" on our "mobile data terminals." We were supposed to check a neighborhood for a man dressed in all brown, pushing a hand cart with boxes on it. The RP feared casing.
These, and others, are not measures of intelligence but matters of perspective. I'm sure the skinny guy on the bike wanted to say something to the police officer suddenly so...accessible. He may have ridden on wondering how the intelligent comment he had in his mind had sounded so silly out loud. The person reporting the UPS guy as suspicious may have decided burglars are wearing more clever disguises these days.
Nevertheless, on cold, gray days intervening at the frayed edges of our social fabric these little moments of mirth go a long way. Thank you, kind citizens.