Years ago, when you had to pay the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll by handing over money (rather than with an electronic tag), Ronny Jensen used to do something surprising.

Ronny, the 68th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, would sometimes give the attendant double the toll – paying for himself and whoever was in the car behind.

It would give Ronny pleasure to know that his random act of kindness would be brightening somebody’s day.

Last year, Ronny started doing something similar but in reverse – asking business owners and employees for discounts.

Partly, it was because Ronny knew from experience that others would get pleasure from doing acts of kindness to him. And partly it was because Ronny – who works in sales – wanted to become more comfortable with asking uncomfortable questions.

When you ask for things, people sometimes say yes. Recently, Ronny got a free coffee from his local cafe, just because he asked. Another time, Ronny got a 5% discount at Woolworths, just because he asked.

Often, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Ronny is a charming character and has a cheeky smile, so I’d probably give him a discount too.