Below is an embed of an excellent photo essay of what life was really like for millions of people in the old Soviet Union. The embed below is only an intro; read the whole thing.
This section reminded me of a joke a former member of the Czech politburo told me in the early 1990s.
The joke: A Russian laborer named Vasily saved and scrimped and black marketed for 20 years to buy a new Volga car. Finally, he had enough for a down payment. So in March 1976 he went to the Volga order taker (there were no showrooms) and, beaming, placed his order.
Taking his money, the clerk consulted a small book and told him, "Very well, Comrade Vasily, your car will be delivered to you on ... June 16, 1987."
Vasily mulled this over a moment, then said, "Morning or afternoon?"
Surprised, the clerk blurted, "What difference does it make?"
"I have a plumber coming by that afternoon."