The man walks with purpose to the small round table and tucks his gangly frame into the bistro chair.
He places a large milky drink down onto the sticky table top, having swooped in before the lacklustre barista could spray and wipe between customers.
The large chunky trademark Starbucks mug is heaped with cream piled high and swirled with caramel drizzle. What sits beneath? Who knows? Caramel latte? Double espresso cappuccino? Chai latte with a twist.
The cup contents is irrelevant. The action is happening up top.
The man, who looks like a discount store version of a weathered Ryan Reynolds, pushes up his sleeves with purpose. His black work sweater baring a company brand. His black trousers and work boots clean and non-descript.
He reaches to the left of his cup and picks up the clear cellophane package of chewy caramel waffles. With a swift movement the package is ripped in two, its contents released.
He snatches up the waffle and bends it precisely in two, the baked treat splitting with a soft sound. He looks at it with satisfaction and spoons it into the plume of cream before popping it into his mouth with satisfaction.
With practised dexterity, each of the caramel waffles are bent, halved and used to swoop the cream from receptacle to his serious, thin-lipped mouth. It is a fine art. Each of the 3 caramel waffles are broken and shared into the exact amount required to remove all traces of cream from the top of this mystery beverage. Not a pillow is wasted, nor spilled; each near-miss expertly manoeuvred until the pillowy cream peaks are sat safely atop their waffley rafts.
He takes a large gulp from his beverage, looking blankly ahead of him, oblivious to the small toddler gazing at him from his mother’s shoulders. He pays no attention to the middle-aged couple who are dressed way younger than their years and watching something on their phones with the volume turned up high enough for the entire coffee shop to hear. They are old enough to know better but laugh obliviously and keep their heads together as the tinny sound irritates fellow caffeine consumers.
But not him.
He doesn’t even notice the fat and fluffy flakes of snow that patter against the window pane to his immediate right. This weather so unusual, yet worth none of his attention in comparison to this blissful beverage retreat.
In 4 large gulps he has drained his pristine cup, the entire process taking just 9 minutes.
He clutches at the mermaid-emblazoned napkin, wipes at his clean-shaven mouth, dabbing at his lips before scrunching it into a tight ball and slam-dunking it into the now empty mug.
With a scrape of metal on tile, it is over. The floppy-haired weekend staff member lopes over, plonking the still-warm cup and cellophane noisily into his clearing tray, giving the table a swift once-over as it awaits its next eager occupant.