Doorbells, Daytime Spooks, and the Worst Halloween Costume of 2023

Mary Shiraef
4 min readNov 1, 2023

I had a very spooky Halloween, after all. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t experience Halloween since I am in Thessaloniki, and Greece doesn’t have a history of celebrating Halloween, certainly nowhere near the hype of the United States.

But I ended up being spooked in the middle of the day.

I was sitting, working alone in a 3rd-floor apartment into which I had just moved when the doorbell began to ring. I was not expecting anyone, so I initially ignored it. But it went on and on. I picked up the intercom phone to inquire who it was, but there was no answer. I peeked outside off my balcony to see if I could spot someone, but I couldn’t catch a glimpse of who it was. As it continued to ring, I called my real estate agent to see if my landlord had intended to stop by that day. He checked and immediately called me back to say it wasn’t him. He said it was “probably just someone looking for him,” and I could ignore it.

I said okay and hung up. But in my head, I was thinking: why is someone looking for my landlord in such an aggressive manner, ringing his bell for what had then been five or ten minutes straight? Maybe I’m not supposed to be here.

I started imagining muscly-shaped mafia members coming to collect their debt. But then I was like, why would they threaten his tenant if he's in debt? Is this even his place?? I had not seen a deed, after all. How does one ever know who owns a place they are renting? I reminded myself I did have the key.

It continued to ring, so loudly, that if I’d been in a virtual meeting, I would have had to cancel. Growing annoyed, I considered texting my real estate agent about the experience to highlight how unusual it was. But it subsided for a brief moment of audio bliss. The next thing I knew, the person was rapping at my door.

Unsure how they got into the building in the first place, I grew uncomfortable but took mental security in knowing I’d locked the deadbolt. I decided I would just be quiet and wait for them to leave.

But then, I heard them inserting what sounded like a key, turning the handle, and opening the door. I expected it to stop at the deadbolt, but it did not — lurching me into fight-or-flight mode. The safest exit is probably the balcony. Was there an awning below to catch me if I needed to jump? I started to text my agent since he knew my location and could probably come faster than the police. But rather than a giant man, as my fear-based brain was expecting, a little old lady nosed in slightly, making me think for a second: wait, is this the cleaning lady? Maybe she’s confused.

I approached her in my largest Mary stance, which is not much taller than her, and she backed up into the hallway. Instead of explaining, though, she drew my eyes to a 5 euro note in her left hand and tried to pretend to be begging. Her audacity was awe-inspiring upon reflection but rather confusing in that moment. Her seasoned, pitiful look did not fool me, however. I calmly took her photo. She grew upset and left just as fast as she could (which wasn’t fast).

Only later, when I was observing the photo, did I realize she had been holding a large tool in her right hand, fully covered by a baby burping cloth. 👀

When you hear “old woman robbery,” you would typically think of those people you see on the internet going out of their way to protect old women from being robbed. You’d never think an old woman might burglarize you… and on Halloween. It is so incredibly confusing; it *might have been* the perfect crime.

Instead, “old woman burglar with a wrench and a baby burping cloth” was the worst Halloween disguise I saw in 2023. And still, I got rather spooked!


For any potential thieves: the lock has since been replaced, and my testimony and photo were shared with the authorities. I should also say: I am a workaholic, so I am verrrry often home in the daytime. And I am too busy to answer the door for unexpected visitors.

For the specific thief: My laptop is with me if I’m not home. I am still a student and have no stacks of cash, only snacks. If you want my snacks, you’re better off asking me in public where I feel safe or better yet, already in line to buy food for myself. This will save me time and allow you to choose what you want instead of rummaging through my things.

Also, stop being an asshole and contributing to the stereotype that people who ask for spare change also steal!

If my landlord reads this: I apologized in my head to my kind and responsible landlord for assuming he had any debt to the mafia.

Proof I am “that girl carrying her backpack everywhere”; this was on my way home from the bar the other night when I reflected on how safe and beautiful Thessaloniki is at night (still true!)



Mary Shiraef

Everyday Researcher, Occasional Teacher. I write here about the people, experiences, and businesses that bring me joy and occasionally, the politics that don't.