Some expected flowers or even lunch at a moderately fancy restaurant. For others, a simple card would have done. And then there were those who expected nothing.
And that's what they got.
"They didn't give me anything," Alfred Pinkett complained yesterday.
The 16 employes supervised by Pinkett, a district manager for H&R Block, apparently were among many yesterday who weren't aware of Bosses' Day.
"I don't think they knew about it," Pinkett said after brief reflection.
Indeed, Bosses' Day, the fraternal twin of the increasingly popular National Secretaries' Day, has been around since 1958. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a product of the entrepreneurial ingenuity of florists and greeting card specialists, but was actually registered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the District by a secretary, Patricia Haroski.
Retired after 50 years of typing, taking shorthand and answering phones, Haroski now lives in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"I never worked for a boss I didn't like," she said in a telephone interview yesterday, noting that she was always employed, even during the Great Depression.
"I was well developed; I wasn't very kiddish," the grandmother of two said. "It seemed like I could always get a job."
Still, many of those who had jobs yesterday didn't observe the day with their bosses. Local restaurateurs noticed little change in their lunchtime business. At Duke Zeibert's on Connecticut Avenue, "Not one person said anything about Bosses' Day," according to Randy Zeibert, coowner of the restaurant.
But local florists and card shop owners reported business was heavier than usual, despite an acknowledged lack of publicity about the day.
At Capitol Hill Florists on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, manager Vera Roland said an equal number of flowers were sent to male and female bosses, most of them going to congressional offices.
At The Confectionary gift shop on K Street, only a few Bosses' Day cards were left on the shelves.
The day translates into $1 million in sales for the greeting card industry, which has been making the cards since 1979, according to Hallmark Cards spokesman Rachel Bolton, just behind the $1.5 million generated by Secretaries' Day but far from a major holiday such as Christmas, a day for which card sales last year swelled to $2.2 billion.
Late in the afternoon, Brenda Washburn, a secretary at the Veterans Administration, purchased a 32-ounce chocolate chip cookie that she and other secretaries presented to their supervisors.
"We figured on Secretaries' Day they treat us, so we'd treat them," she said. "This is all very hush-hush."
Meanwhile, employes at the Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Company on I Street NW, where Washburn bought her giant confection, were busy baking and decorating cookies for the next "holiday."
Saturday is "Sweetest Day," a day to "be sweet" that is evidently the 60-year-old invention of a Cleveland candy company, according to Hallmark's Bolton.
So don't say you didn't know.