It’s a busy afternoon on Rabi Akiva Street in Bnei Brak, when I spot her on the stone step near the Hatzvi Bakery. I sit down next to her, hoping to engage her in conversation, when she gets up and says, “Do me a favor, I’m going into the bakery to ask them to change my coins into bills. Please watch my things.” Before I can blink, I find myself sitting amid her bundles, some dirty plastic containers, and a shopping cart with a bottle of cola and some cling-wrapped day-old sandwiches inside. People walk by, most of them ignoring me — until someone puts a coin in one of the containers. Do they really think I’m a beggar? Mortified, I’m about to jump up, when it hits me: This is what the consumer nucleus of Bnei Brak looks like from the other side, from the place where you need to draw on the compassion of others in their shopping frenzy, from the place where you have nothing of your own except for a few stale sandwiches, from the place where a human heart beats behind an outstretched palm.