This is one of those great mysteries of life which the current generation may have missed!
When cars had ignition points rather than solid state ignition modules, it was common to have bad points. They needed to be changed every 8-10 thousand miles driven and were a major reason for mechanics in every garage. The points open and close so often that they were almost always burned to various levels. One of the first steps when the car would not run was to pop the top off the distributer and check the points. I carried a small nail file in the glove box to file the points when they stuck.
We now spend so much time on computers, cell phones, etc, that there is little time to study the more mechanical items which we use.
Now when I see a car at roadside and the driver looking at the engine, I just assume there is nothing he can do, so I offer a phone!