Lift the hood on a car in a public place -- like your driveway -- and you'll soon have a little flock of gawkers surrounding you while calling out obvious, or harebrained, advice.
For years Saturday Night Live had a running sequence about the "middle-aged man" who was drawn to a raised hood like a hummingbird to red.
Tri-Tech Skills Center isn't turning out any middle-aged men, but it is training the genuine article in people who can fix a car without any help whatsoever.
So good are Miguel Tobon and Edgar Guzman at car diagnosis and repair that they brought home the state title from the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition held at Renton Technical College.
Next month, they will compete in Dearborn, Mich., for the national title.
And they are competing on new Fords, not the relics of the 1970s that John Belushi and company used to work on.
You don't fix carburetors with screwdrivers anymore.
Every modern car is a rolling complex of computers, specialized wires, delicate adjustments and hard-to-get-to places.
Their instructor, Larry Brookes, gives them a lot of credit for all the extra time they put in honing their skills, and the young men in turn credit Brookes with being an instructor who makes finding the problems in seemingly unworkable cars as hard as possible to find.
It's good practice for real life, where an owner's diagnosis seldom goes beyond "it makes a funny noise sometimes."
Tobon and Guzman worked on a Mustang lent by Tom Denchel Ford that had been "bugged" by Brookes.
"I was a lot worse than they were at state," Brookes told Herald reporter Jacques Von Lunen. "They came in and nothing would turn on. ... Just about every electronic part was bugged at one point or another ... But in the final practice they found 18 bugs in 48 minutes."
In Renton, they debugged their test car of nine of its 10 problems in 55 minutes (out of 90 minutes allowed).
We're glad to see Tobon or Guzman turn the spotlight on Tri-Tech. This branch campus, offering students at all Tri-City area high schools a chance to delve into 20 career paths, doesn't always get the recognition it deserves.
Not to take anything away from the pair, but they're just two of hundreds of young people getting a head start on mastering the skills required to step into a range of meaningful and fulfilling jobs.
How well Tobon and Guzman do in Dearborn will determine scholarships offered by Ford. Both young men aim for careers, of course, as auto mechanics.
Oops, our nomenclature may be as out-of-date as 40-year-old Saturday Night Live material.
According to Tobon and Guzman, the correct term these days is "auto technician."
We ought to try harder to keep up.
The machine on which this editorial was created is operated pretty much in the same way as an old Remington or Royal.
But if we went to the Information Technology Department and told them our typewriter doesn't work, we expect we would get thrown out on our ear -- once they figured out what we were talking about.