Over the last week, Jayita and I have been calling the folks back home several times (the holiday season, plus a slew of anniversarys and birthdays). The first few seconds of the conversation are normal until one (or both) parties realize that it's a call from the US. That's when they feel the sudden inadequacy of the telephone system to bridge all those miles, and need to raise their voices several tens of decibels, just so that it can be heard on the other side of the world.
Of course, the telephone system wasn't really built for mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps (sorry Wodehouse), and distorts each yell beyond recognition, resulting in even further escalation of the vocal arms race.
(one of) Us: Hi there!
Us (minus eardrum): ebbeh...
Note the secondary effect of compressing an entire conversation's worth of questions into a single sentence -- just in case that connection drops.
It's "the most wonderful time of the year"... it really is...