Last Updated Mar 29, 2010 6:05 PM EDT
I figured that he would put out his cigarette, thank me, and go on to live a long and happy life. Instead he said, "Shut up little girl," and stomped into his house.
Your boss is aware of Ms. Toxic's bad behavior. Sure, he may not know the full extent of it (especially if other people have been cleaning up her messes to cover their own behinds), but he knows she's bad news. He has taken steps to control her toxicity (he removed her direct reports and he approves your plans). He may well have her on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) that you are unaware of. A good manager wouldn't be discussing a particular employee's performance problems with the employee's peers.
So, you actually don't need to rat her out. What you do need is a good cathartic discussion where you tell someone how rotten Ms. Toxic is. That's what I'm here for. And that's what your mother/best friend/next door neighbor is for. It is not, however, what your other co-workers are for. They may all agree with you, but it will only make the situation more unpleasant. By talking about Ms. Toxic, you necessarily have to exclude her from non-work activities (like lunch and general chatting), which serves to isolate her socially, which will magnify her bad behaviors.
If you go to your boss and complain, it will serve to further frustrate him. He knows there are problems. He's either handling them his own way or choosing (consciously) to ignore them. Or, just maybe (and I do shudder to say this), he has been trying to fire this woman but HR has been stopping him.
So, don't worry about saying anything to your director. You just head off to graduate school and keep your options open. You may be absolutely convinced that this lab is the place for you and you desperately want to come back to it. But, as you gain experience and opportunities in grad school, you may find that you want to head another way.
When you're done with school and you get offered a job at your old lab (and no matter what they say now, don't count on this happening), it's okay at that point to mention that Ms. Toxic was difficult to work with and ask if that is still the case. If so, you can inquire, how will it affect you in your new role?
Other than that, just let it go. Do your job. When she's extra annoying just keep thinking, "it's not my problem, it's not my problem." And give your mom a call. It will give you a chance to vent and a chance for your mother to remind you that if you truly loved her, you'd call more often.
Photo by brookpeterson, Flickr CC 2.0