Houston Chronicle reports
If all storms had a name, this one would start with the letter F.
As Tropical Storm Edouard closed in on the Texas Gulf Coast last week, a storm of a different kind was brewing inside the sporting goods section of a Wal-Mart store in La Marque. It started with the F-word.
And now a 28-year-old single mother must go to court if she wants to fight a ticket for using profanity.
On Aug. 4, as local residents prepared for deteriorating weather conditions, Kathryn "Kristi" Fridge made a last-minute stop at the Wal-Mart at FM 1764 and Interstate 45 with her mother and 2-year-old daughter.
Finding the batteries shelf bare, she expressed her displeasure and disbelief to her mother.
"I was like, 'Dang.' I looked at my mom and said, 'They're all ----ing gone," Fridge recalled.
Suddenly, Capt. Alfred Decker, the La Marque assistant fire marshal, appeared from around the corner, dressed in a fire department uniform.
"He said, 'You need to watch your mouth,' " Fridge said.
Perplexed by who the man was -- his badge said "fire department" -- Fridge offered a scant apology.
"I was like, 'Oh, OK. Sorry?' " she said.
Fridge walked away, but said the man ordered her to come back. She then protested, telling him she was having a private conversation with her mother that was none of his business. When the man ordered her to come to him and she refused, she said he pulled out his handcuffs.
Chief defends the actionLa Marque Fire Chief Todd Zacherl said Fridge made such a scene in the Wal-Mart that night, disrupting the peace, that Decker had no choice but to act.
"She cussed him, she cussed everybody. By now, we have a huge group of people looking," Zacherl said.
Fridge emphatically denied that, saying while she did curse in casual conversation with her mother, she never cursed at Decker, even during their confrontation. Her mother agreed.
"She never got nasty with him, she never cussed at him," said Fridge's mother, Kathryn Rice of Santa Fe.
Decker ordered Fridge to come out to his car because that's where his citation book was stored, Zacherl said. Fridge eventually complied, but admits she used the offending word again when she turned to a crowd of onlookers while being led outside and yelled, "Can you believe this? He's ----ing arresting me for saying ----!"
"When I got outside, I saw he was a fire marshal -- I saw his car. I said, 'You're not even a cop!' He said, 'I can do this,' " Fridge said.
Decker asked for her name, and Fridge said she began to spell it out verbally and in sign language, which angered him. As their confrontation continued, he handcuffed her.
Zacherl said the assistant fire marshal did so for his own safety because Fridge was being belligerent and because he had to turn his back to get his ticket book and check on the radio if she had any arrest warrants.
Ultimately, Fridge was released and ticketed for disoyrderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor. She can pay a fine or appear in court to contest the citation.
Thanks to Wendy McElroy