I was in the middle of a phone call with my mom, an Alabamian born and bred, and after a slight lull in the conversation, she said the famous last words of any Southern call: “Well, I’ll let you go…”
In the South, where chatter and pleasantries can extend for hours, “Well, I’ll let you go” perfectly exemplifies Southern manners. Maybe Mom had a load of laundry to move to the dryer or maybe she needed to run to the store before it closed. Or maybe she was just plain done with the conversation and would rather have watched paint dry than continue. If folks were to say, “Well, I need to go now…” or even, “I need to go do XYZ…,” they come across sounding, quite frankly, a bit selfish. After all, visiting with company — be that in person or over a device— surely takes precedence over anything else. Even, “Well, I better run…” just doesn’t have the same effect.
“Well, I’ll let you go” informs the other party that you are doing them a kindness and that you can’t possibly hold them up any longer. It lets them know how much you value their time and that, they too, may have gumbo on the stove that needs a stir or a window that needs washing.
So, next time you find yourself searching for a polite way to hang up with Aunt Bernice telling you, for the second time, about that ingrown big toenail, try, “Oh my! I can’t believe I’ve kept you on this long! I’ll let you go…”
All the best for that toe, though, bless her heart.
“Well, I’ll let you go” informs the other party that you are doing them a kindness and that you can’t possibly hold them up any longer.