Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Overview: A person responsible for providing alcoholic drinks to customers in a social environment. Bartenders are found in clubs, sports bars, pubs, restaurants, and at special events like weddings, private parties, or entertainment venues. A bartender must be of legal age to distribute alcohol and there may be other conditions depending on the venue and security considerations.
Necessary Training: Some bartenders may attend bartending school, but others are self-taught. Having a wide knowledge of popular drinks (and how to mix them), understanding the many varieties of beer (lagers, ales, IPA, etc.) and being able to offer up recommendations is key. Some locations may require special knowledge of a particular beverage (say if one worked in a wine bar). Depending on the location of your story and the type of venue, a bartender may have to obtain different certificates (such as a license to serve alcohol), or take alcohol awareness classes. They may also need a food handling permit if they are also serving food, or pass a security check if the bar-tending position is in a location where one is serving high profile clientele.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: charm, empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality, making people laugh, reading people, self-defense, strategic thinking, enhances taste buds, throwing one’s voice
Helpful Character Traits: adaptable, calm, charming, creative, diplomatic, discreet, efficient, friendly, organized, perceptive, hospitable, persuasive, flirty, spontaneous, talented, witty
Sources of Friction: drunk patrons, domestic abuse situations that play out in the bar, jealous boyfriends or girlfriends who view the bartender’s friendliness as flirting, patrons unable to pay their bills, patrons who have taken drugs or prescriptions that lead to accelerated intoxication, people who refuse to get a cab, disputes over bills, tip theft among staff members, arguments and fights when tempers flare among partygoers, dealing with threats and de-escalating potentially violent situations when patrons are cut off due to drunken behavior, witnessing someone attempting to dose a drink, underage patrons who have fake IDs, a robbery
People They Might Interact With: Servers, management, patrons (drunk, sober, high, amorous, etc.), delivery people, wait staff, cooks, police officers, bouncers, alcohol reps
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Safety and Security: bar fights, rowdy patrons, and possible illegal activities happening during one’s shift may create safety issues.
- Love and Belonging: Relationships can be difficult to maintain in this career because one is always working during traditional “social time” like weekends and holidays, and the hours are often quite late, meaning one is catching up on sleep when others are awake. Partners of bartenders may also become jealous as flirtatiousness for tips often are at play.
- Esteem and Recognition: This industry may cater to hiring women bartenders over men, as many establishments feel that beautiful women bartenders lead to more product being sold. If there is not a gender bias, there is still usually an appearance bias. This type of prejudice may cause people who do not fit the “ideal” feel held back if they are limited in hours or opportunities as a result.
Common Work-Related Settings: Restaurant, Bar, Pub, Black Tie Event, Casino, Cruise Ship, Nightclub, House Party, Wedding Reception
Twisting the Stereotype: Give a bartender (male or female) a specific personality trait, a flare for the dramatic, or a creative spirit when it comes to inventing new drinks that makes them exceptional, rather than the usual “good looks.” Maybe they know exactly how to handle difficult patrons, can read the minds of their customers, or they are known for sleight-of-hand magic tricks while they sling drinks. Think outside the box with this occupation and deliver something unique to readers.