"That's it?" The boy was looking at me like I'd shorted him in his share of a chocolate bar.
I checked my watch. Six-thirty?
I tapped it twice and held it up to my ear. Still ticking alright. That can't be all; I said to myself.
We'd started just a half hour earlier.
"We're done? We just got here!"
"Here" being in a church on a Sunday night, sorting food for holiday deliveries to needy families. More than 1,600 according to the man with the clipboard, who was now thanking the large group of volunteers that had made short work of the evening's to-do list.
I'd assumed he was the minister, but I didn't want to temp fate by asking. Our family is so far from religious that I had secretly thought once we stepped through the doors to volunteer, the light from Religious would travel with the speed of a lightning bolt and strike us.
But it didn't.
Instead we were met by other people we know in the community - some heathens like ourselves and others more devout - and together we hauled sacks of food from one room to another. We sorted and separated. We checked dates and arranged each item by food group on tables that were already set up and waiting.
The system didn't take long to learn. Peanut butter goes here. Tuna fish goes over there. Pasta and sauce can share space in between.
"Where do I put this, mama?" asks my son, holding up a bag of "popcorn seeds." I point to a table in the far corner where all the snack foods have landed. He disappears and is back in a blink, this time with a stack of soups three cans high.
"I'm good. Don't need any help. I know where the soups are," he says as he zips past.
His sister, heading now into her last year of her tweens, tried to be cool with her ripped jeans, bedazzled top and colorful beanie perched on her head at a jaunty angle.
Her job, self-appointed, of course, was to second-guess every date of every item I had cleared and placed on the sorting table. "This says 2015 not 2016," she said in the booming voice she inherited from my side of the family.
Because, don't-ya-know, when you are old, people need to shout at you.
"It goes under here," she said slowly, as she bent down to toss the offending foodstuff on top of the pile of other non-perishables that had already died in the back of someone's kitchen cabinet.
Just looking at the growing pile stacked under the tables, I felt the dull ache of remorse.
How old was the stuffing mix I'd donated last month? I never even checked when I filled a bag. Multiply that bag by the many years we've lived here and watch my remorse grow ...
I start to feel a little sick.
Honestly, this was the most painful part of volunteering. Looking at the many donations that had been fresh when the artist currently known as Prince was just a symbol. And knowing some of those "gifts" might have been mine.
And then I think of that short-changed candy bar in my kid's tone of voice. ... A piece handed over between friends and loved ones might be sweet. But given to a stranger, it's not much of a treat.