In the USSR, you weren’t allowed to sell your apartment. So if you needed a bigger or a different apartment or one located in another neighborhood, you had to swap. Rarely did people find partners for a direct swap where each family would need exactly what the other family had. So what you had to do was build chains. If I go to A’s apartment, and A goes to B’s, B’s family splits and goes to C’s and D’s apartments, while C and D get married and move into mine. Then you have to get everybody on board and make sure they all move in and out at the same time.
Something similar happens in my work as Chair. Today, I had to close an under-enrolled section, open another, swap two more, and shuffle a bunch of people around so that everybody goes into the correct section, nobody’s schedule is disturbed, teaching loads are preserved, students don’t get lost, and the Dean’s Office is happy. It’s like a mathematical puzzle, and I love it. I had no idea I’d enjoy this kind of stuff so much. My Soviet skills are in high demand.
And to people who think socialism would be so much better, what I have to say is: you poor innocent child. You have no idea and good for you.