I had a pretty bad experience with a letter writer today. After I confirmed with her several weeks ago that she was willing to write, I immediately registered her for the online applications. At the same time I sent an email to tell her the timeframe so she didn't get stressed from me flooding her inbox. In the same email, I said that a couple of programmes required paper letters and that I'd have the forms etc to her soon. Then a couple of weeks later I sent an email saying that actually one of the remaing letters needed to be sent to an email address, and (again) I'd have paper forms for other schools for her soon. The day after my first deadline, she uploaded all but one of the online recs. This meant she missed the deadline for the one that needed emailed. Not one to stress, I figured she'd get to it eventually.
Today, I went to drop off the forms for paper applications, and I had a cover note mentioning that there was still an online app to go (deadline mid jan; so no pressure) and could she please send the letter as an email attachment (this was the one overdue).
So after I politely and deferntially told her that I was at there to drop off the forms, her response was a grunt of dissapointment. "So much work to do, I'll get to it later" "that's fine, I'm so sorry to be a pain" etc etc. She acted as if I was adding extra schools at the last minute, rather than following up on what had already been agreed (and a deadline that had passed). It's her who hasn't read/understood/remembered emails, but I'm the one who gets branded in her mind as demanding.
It's not that I don't get how busy she is or that she's doing me a favour. I really hate how the LoR part of the application makes us so dependent on other people. The process is designed to demand a lot of work not just from applicants, but from the letter writers. There's a post on the Chronicle Forums where a single professor has 120 LoR-related emails! The thing is, this recommender is no busier than the other two of mine are. If anything, my other recommenders have more rights to feel like I'm a pain in the rear because of how I know them - I'm this person's only MA advisee, while the others are my employers.
Sigh. Nearly over.