A high-school aged Gene Sperling should have known he was destined for a career in politics. Even back then, he delighted in dealing with other people’s dirty laundry.

In a new video for an initiative to encourage summer jobs and work opportunities for young people, the Director of the National Economic Council fondly recalls his first job — as a ball boy and all-around janitor (paging Newt Gingrich!) for the University of Michigan’s basketball team. He reveled, it seems, in the grubbier aspects of the job, including handling the players’ unmentionables.

“We got to sweep the court at half-time and at the end of every game we got to go into the locker room and throw their dirty socks and uniforms into the laundry bin,” he recalls. “We thought all of these were way cool.”


Then he launches into some TMI. “It was years later that I started to understand why my father and his friends would kind of smile when we would brag about throwing away their [the players’] sweaty, dirty underwear,” Sperling says.

Sperling goes on to advise kids that it’s not smarts that get you ahead as a young worker or an intern. Hard work impresses, he says. It’s “did you hustle, did you do everything, did you have a great attitude,” he says.

Good advice for laundresses everywhere.