Have to agree. They are pretty miserable to deal with.
I've actually done this before, but with a much longer garment bag. Only difference is, I sat right next to, and on the excess fabric of the bag instead of leaving a seat open that no one was obviously going to sit in.
In Tribeca, on two occasions, I've been stopped by a monk, and some random guy giving me blessings from Buddah, and Jesus. They both gave me a good luck charm/card, for "blessings."
I thought they were just being nice to me, seeing how my neutral face looks so sad and all (how naive of me). So as I was about to walk away with what they gave me, both times they stopped me asking for money. When I said I didn't have money on me, they took it back :(