It is another evening in the Bunker household. Edith is in the living room placing the dinner on the table as she does every night. Gloria is already home from work and Mike is home from college. However, one member of the family is still missing. Edith is concerned as Archie has not yet come home from work and she has never known him to be so late for dinner. Gloria is coming down the stairs and smells the food as she does.
"Mmmm...Ma, that smells delicious."
"Oh, thank you Gloria."
"Daddy still isn't home?"
A concerned look comes over Edith's face.
"No...he's been late every day this week, but never this late."
Gloria tries to put her at ease.
"Ma, I'm sure it's nothing to be concerned about. He'll be home soon, you'll see."
Edith feels very little less worry.
"I hope so, Gloria."
Mike comes downstairs and notices that he's heard no door slam nor has he seen any cigar smoke.
"Archie still isn't home?"
Gloria answers him. "No, this really isn't like him. Can you think of why he might be this late?"
"I don't know. Maybe he had other affairs to tend to," he jokes.
"Michael!" she snaps and silently directs his attention towards Edith.
Mike hadn't noticed Edith there at first and realizes the joke was in bad taste.
"Oh boy, uh...sorry Ma, I was just kidding." He smiles uneasily.
"It's all right, Mike."
She is now even more worried.
Just then, Archie walks through the front door visibly agitated and produces one of his loudest door slams yet.
"Archieeeeeee...you're ho..." Edith rushes to greet him but then gets a good look at his face and stops about halfway. She is apprehensive to ask the question she about to but does anyway.
"How was your day?"
Archie just stares at her for a second then talks.
"Edith...you know that day I got that Kraut shrapnel in my rear end during W.W. II -- the big one?"
"...and when Gloria married the Meathead?"
"...and when the Jeffersons moved in next door?"
"Well, Edith...if you mixed all of them days together, they'd still make a better day than the day I've had today."
"Daddy, why are so late?" Gloria asks as Archie hangs up his hat and coat.
"Little girl, it's all because of them damn subways. They're tighter than a Jew's purse strings."
Gloria and Mike look at him with disgust at the comment. Archie continues ranting as he walks to the dinner table.
"Boy, I gotta tell youse all something. I can not stand them subways no more. First, you gotta go down a dark stairway where it feels like you're walking into a grave. Then you wait on a crowded platform where one of three things'll happen to ya: a - you'll get pick pocketed, b - you'll get pushed onto the tracks, or c - you'll get some kind of bodily fluid on ya. The ladder happens most often. Next, when the damn subway car finally comes, look out! It's a mad dash inside and if ya move too slow, you get trampled. Then if you're still alive, you gotta sit next to weirdoes, nutjobs, and fags. But the final thing that broke the camel's straw today was when the car broke down on the tracks and couldn't move for about a half hour."
"Oh, my." Edith says in pity for Archie.
"Yeah, and it still ain't over because when you're out of the subway, ya still gotta walk a good way home where you'll be lucky if ya don't get mugged."
"Gosh, Daddy no wonder you were late."
"Hey Arch, I really don't care for the subways either, but what are you gonna do? I mean you have to get from 'point A' to 'point B' somehow."
"I tell you what I'm gonna do, Meathead. I am gonna buy me a car. That way I can get from 'point A' to 'point B, C and D' there."
Mike looks at Archie questioningly.
"How are you going to afford a car?"
"Well first, I am something a certain Polack in this house is not -- employed."
Mike looks at him in angered exasperation.
"And second, I've been saving for this for quite a while. I've got quite a bit of dough stashed for this occasion here."
Edith seems excited at the prospect of a new car.
"Oh my, a new car would come in handy when I go grocery shopping."
"Hold it Edith, now I don't know about that. I mean if there's one thing New York don't need, it's a dingbat behind the wheel clogging up the artereries of the trafficways."
Gloria jumps in to Edith's defense.
"That's not fair, Daddy. If you can drive the car, Ma should able be to drive it too."
"Listen little girl, everybody knows that women are worser drivers than men."
"Certainly! It's because they're always applying that -- what do ya call -- masked carrot on their eyes and rogue on their faces while they're driving, causing all kinds of jams and accidents."
Gloria and Edith look in disbelief of what he is saying.
"Hey, it's a well-known fact, look it up."
Mike changes the subject.
"So Arch, what kind of car do you want to get?"
"Ah, I really don't care as long as it is in good condition...and American."
Archie gives Mike a strange look.
"What the hell do ya mean, 'Why American'? Because American is always best is why, Meathead."
"Arch, foreign cars are just as good. Take Datsun or Toyota."
Archie looks at Mike dismissively.
"Are you kidding me? Jap cars as good as red-blooded American cars? They can't hold a candle to 'em."
"Oh really? Would you care to place a wager on that?"
"Buddy, I'd wager my life on it."
A sly grin appears on Mike's face.
"All right, I'll you what. Gloria and I will buy a Japanese car and you and Ma can buy a American car in the same condition. Whoever's car has the least problems over...say six months, wins the bet."
Archie develops a smug look.
"Listen to this guy. All right big shot, how much money you wanna lose?."
"Uh...let's say 20 bucks."
"Twenty bucks? You're on."
The two men shake hands as the two women look at each other with a feeling of dread.
end part one