Police in South Carolina arrested a mom last weekend after she allegedly directed the word “fuck” at her children in a Kroger grocery store. Danielle Wolf, who just moved her family to the city of North Augusta three weeks ago, grew frustrated with her husband for squishing the bread in her shopping cart, and displayed her annoyance with a few four-letter words. A fellow shopper approached Wolf and insisted that she had said “fuck” in front of her children. Wolf had said the word to her husband, not her kids, though I’m not sure why a total stranger felt entitled to this clarification. “She’s like, ‘you said the f-word’, and I’m like, ‘when did I say this to my kids?’” Wolf told local news station WJBF. “She’s like, ‘you told them that they were smashing the bread’, and I said ‘no’ I said that to my husband, that he was smashing the bread by throwing the frozen pizzas on top of it.’”
One thing lead to another, and though the irritated shopper hadn’t intended for Wolf to be arrested, she ended up leaving the store in handcuffs.
“He was like, ‘You’re under arrest’…right in front of kids, in front of my husband, in front of customers,” Wolf said. ”I didn’t harm nobody. I didn’t hurt nobody. The [other shopper] said she was having a bad day. So, because you’re having a bad day you’re going to ruin somebody’s life.” The shopper, on the other hand, says she wasn’t having a bad day at all but that Wolf’s profanity brought back memories of her abusive childhood.
While I feel more blame for this situation lays with the police who thought cussing in the supermarket was actually worthy of arrest, the disgruntled shopper has since apologized to the Wolf. Nevertheless, Wolf was charged with disorderly conduct and is due in court in September. According to North Augusta law, disorderly conduct is to “utter, while in a state of anger, in the presence of another, any bawdy, lewd or obscene words or epithets.”
Is this crazy or what? Besides the basic fact that the reason for this arrest is ludicrous, let’s all review how we are to handle each other in shared public spaces. When you enter a grocery store, the post office, or any place that is not your property, you enter at the risk that some of the people you encounter there might annoy you. There could be plenty of reasons for this – maybe that annoying person is having the worst day of their lives, or grew up in a totally different culture than you where the behavior in question is OK, or maybe they’re just jerks. We can’t really know! Unless that person is legitimately harming us or someone else, we don’t really have the right to know. If strangers are too irritating, we can decide whether to suck it up or leave.
Unfortunately, plenty of children are treated abusively in public, and if Wolf’s children appeared to be in real danger of their mom, I’d think this stranger was right to step in (although admittedly I have no idea what the safest steps would be to diffuse that kind of situation). This little squabble between Wolf and her husband over a loaf of bread, however, was a harmless and personal situation that the stranger had no business being involved in. I’m all about looking out for kids, but it seems like moms these days have to spend every second in fear of facing legal trouble for their basic parenting choices.
Would I say “fuck” in front of my (hypothetical) young children? Ideally, no, but let’s be real, I am an imperfect human with limited patience, and watching my family squash the bread (blasphemy!) at the grocery store is the exact moment I’d probably snap and drop a few curse words around the kiddos. After all, those words weren’t created for nothing — sometimes they’re the only ones capable of fully describing our sheer frustration. Unfortunately, now Danielle Wolf has a lot more to say “fuck” about.
[Image of swear jar via Shutterstock]