The Satisfaction Policy

by Alaena Hope

“Well you look exhausted. Run into a difficult client again? Or was it a difficult wish?”

“Just human indecision as usual,” the blue genie sighed. He lounged back in the pool of steam. The azure smoke of his body tinged the steam blue where they mingled. “Ever since they instated that satisfaction policy, I’ve been working ten times the hours, but my performance ratings keep going down.”

“I hear you,” the green genie agreed, drifting down into the pool as well. Green hues joined the blue swirls in the steam. “When they announced we’d only have to grant one wish per client now, I thought the workload was going to get lighter. But having to try and make sure they’re satisfied? That’s way too much to ask of any genie.”

“Too true. At least in the good old days, we could have some fun. Take my last client, for instance. She started out by wishing for a pair of new shoes, but then she couldn’t decide what kind. So we went to the mall. While we’re there, she finds a dozen different pairs of shoes she loves and can’t make up her mind. So she goes and says ‘Oh, I wish I could wear all of them at once’. In the old days, I could’ve just given her a few more pairs of feet. Then she would’ve wished she hadn’t made that wish, and I’d have been more than halfway done.”

The green genie laughed. “Most wished wish in history, that one. So what happened then?”

“I suggested that she just wish for them all, and I think she almost went for it. But then she tells me her mother would be upset if she cluttered the apartment with so many extra shoes. So then I suggested one pair of morphing shoes. She said that ‘sounds really cool’, so we agreed on it. Of course, to make sure the shoes would be able to change into all available styles, I had to make a quick trip around the world to conduct research.”

A spout of green smoke whistled towards the aurora that filled the sky above the pool. Fairy lights scattered then drifted back in lazy clouds. “No wonder you were gone so long.”

“Yeah, well, I was trying to get it right this time.”

“Raise your performance ratings and the like?”

Blue smoke gusted through the steam. “Well, that too. But I was thinking it might be nice to get a real, heartfelt thank you now and then.”

“Doesn’t sound like it went well,” the green genie observed.

“Well, it took me about three months to get those shoes to her.”

“And she didn’t like them?”

“No, she did. But apparently she’d wanted to show them off at her school dance. But she got them a month too late for that. So it turns out she was only just barely satisfied with her wish.”

“My last client was exactly the same. He wished for a million dollars.”

“I would’ve thought that would be nice and straight forward.”

A snort sent a puff of lime-colored smoke skyward. “I thought so too. But can you guess how long he was satisfied for?”

“How long?”

“One minute. The moment the initial delight wore off, he began regretting not asking for a billion. I ended up with a negative mark on my performance for that one as it turned out he went on to live in mild unhappiness where before, he’d been living with a neutral, everyday level of happiness.”

“That really stinks.”

“I’ll say. I seriously don’t understand why we have to bother with this satisfaction policy nonsense at all.”

“Wasn’t it something about improving our public image? Apparently, humans were starting to say that we genies only cause trouble because the wishes we granted almost always ended up null or making people feel jilted.”

“That’s ridiculous. It’s not our fault humans don’t know what they want.”

“You said it.”

The two genies fell into a gloomy silence. It didn’t last long. A loud squeaking filled the air, grating against the serenity of the steam pool.

Sighing, the green genie rose. “Sounds like someone’s gotten my lamp. I’ll see you around.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks. I’ll need it.”