Vignette 11.1 Typical Daytime Travels of a Sixth-Grade Student in a Large Soviet City in the 1970s

Alexander gets up at 7:15 A.M. He lives with his mother and father in a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a typical nine-story building in the microrayon Zvezda located 15 km away from the city center. His mom is getting his breakfast ready. He leaves home at 8:05 A.M. and walks to his school, across the courtyard from the apartment building. His school houses grades K–8; the school day starts at 8:30 A.M. Alexander spends 6 hours at school, including lunch break. His physical education class requires him to run outside for 15 minutes, which everybody does at the school's soccer field, adjacent to the main school building.

At 2:00 P.M. Alexander goes home to an empty apartment. His mother left for her job at a government office (4 km away by city bus) at 8:20 A.M. Her work day is from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M., with 1 hour allowed for lunch. His father left even earlier, at 7:30 A.M.; he needed to take the same bus route and then transfer to another one to reach his factory (10 km away). He is a leading engineer, and he frequently works late. Alexander has three chores to do today, besides his homework: water the houseplants, buy bread, and mail a postcard. He can water the plants quickly while snacking on some leftover food right after school. He then walks over to the bakery shop on the microrayon corner, which is only 10 minutes away. He needs to cross the street to get to the post office, where he buys some envelopes and drops off the postcard. He is back home at 4:30 P.M. in time to watch some TV, exercise a little, and go outside to play with his friends until his mother comes home at 6:30 P.M. and calls him home for dinner. He walks a total distance during the day of about 1.5 km, almost all of which is within his own microrayon. How does this routine differ from what you experienced in sixth grade? How far did you have to travel during the day?