Occupation Thesaurus: Restaurant Server (Waiter/Waitress)

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.

Write Your Character's career with authority using the occupation thesaurus. Here's all the detail you need for you waiter, waitress, or server character's job. 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. 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.

Below is a sample version of this entry to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.

To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)

Occupation: Restaurant Server

Overview: A server is someone who interacts directly with the patrons of a restaurant, bar, cafe, diner, pub, or other location where food and drink is served. They oversee the customer experience, greeting and seating guests, relaying any specials that the establishment wishes to up-sell, answering questions about the menu items, taking orders, relaying special requests or dietary conditions to the cooking staff, serving food and drinks as they are prepared, and delivering…

Necessary Training: in most situations, no post-secondary education is required to be a server, but a high school diploma is often the benchmark for many employers. Depending on the restaurant’s pedigree, extra courses and training may be required or encouraged…

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds…

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, calm, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, diplomatic, easygoing, efficient, enthusiastic, extroverted, friendly…

NEGATIVE: Gossipy, perfectionist, workaholic

Sources of Friction: impossible-to-please customers, dine-and-dashers, patrons who have extreme food allergies yet expect food to be altered even if a restaurant is not set up to adhere to specific food safety standards (for, say, serving Celiacs), rude customers, being blamed for poorly prepared food or incorrect orders when the cooking staff is to blame, other servers stealing tips, giving exceptional service but being tipped poorly, management who insist on micromanaging…

People They Might Interact With: customers, management,  cooking and prep staff, dishwashers, restaurant greeters, delivery people, food and beverage reps…

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who is struggling with self-worth because employment is hard to find, they lack the education needed for other jobs that are available, or they wish to break free of any social difficulties or fears they have may find being a server is…
  • Love and Belonging: A character who feels adrift in life may turn to serving to feel part of something larger, especially if the establishment is a fun place to work and has a family-like environment…
  • Physiological Needs: In most cultures, survival depends on employment, so a character who was finding it hard to make ends meet to pay rent, put food on the table, etc. may turn to serving as it is work that often doesn’t require specialized education…

Common Work-Related Settings: bar, black-tie event, break room, casual dining restaurant, coffeehouse, deli, diner, fast food restaurant

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Servers are often portrayed as washed out, jaded workers, or even as “bubbly and not too bright.” In reality, servers have to place a lot of care into what they do to ensure customers enjoy the experience and wish to return, so factor in all the skills required to be an effective server and steer away of these one-note cliches….

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?

Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.

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“It’s like I fed my imagination Red Bull…” ~ Tracy Perkins

The Occupation Thesaurus is yet another priceless author resource released in this series…” ~ Brandi MacCurdy

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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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