I was an hour early.

The sun was out and I felt it was okay to wait. But I had to sit. My toes were sore in my new leathers. My armpits were working up a sweat under a starched long-sleeved polo shirt. My right arm was spastic from the tug between gravity and my Dell briefcase. I needed to sit.

The endless chatter from behind made me turn. Hmmm, American bourgeoisie having late morning coffee at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

I found two unoccupied alfresco seats around a table canopied by a large green awning. I took a seat, placed the briefcase on another, and relaxed my wearied legs. And as nature let a cool breeze slip like a manna of sorts for the tired soul, I thought I heard Bono singing 'Beautiful Day'.

And then there was the sign.

This table is reserved for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf customers only. No loitering!

The exclamation point threatened my peace.

I checked my watch. Gee, I still had 50 minutes to kill. I needed to sit some more — a lot more. And I was at peace with my seat, my canopy, and my breeze.

I'd hate to spend for anything. I had a hearty breakfast a good two hours ago. Besides, if I wanted a caffeinated beverage, I'd have diet Pepsi instead, thank you.

Darn, need I find another spot without a stupid sign, I pondered.

Bah! Who cared? Everyone minded their own business: a housewife sipping a decaf while browsing her bills for a long errand later; a columnist typing his thoughts on his MacBook with a double latte on the side; a teenager drowning her misery (from a breakup, perhaps?) with a Vanilla Chai Tea blend on one hand and a mobile phone on the other. Who would have suspected I was loitering around the premises? Who would have suspected I wasn't patronizing a coffee product? Not even this middle-aged guy, who stood nearby and looked around like one of those usual Hollywood stalkers, would have had the slightest clue whatsoever. Or so I thought.

His mobile rang. He flipped it open and spoke.

Hello, this is David, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Coastal Village Manager speaking, how may I help you?…"

What the f*@#!?! Was he on the lookout for loiters? Was he looking at me with a suspicious mind?

And so, begrudgingly, I reached out my wallet, headed towards the counter, paid six bucks for a tall mocha ice blend and sulked and sipped the next 40 minutes away. On my way out, David, the manager, retreated inside the shop and let out a faux cough that sounded like 'Cheapskate!'

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