There are two types of surface integrals: those that involve scalars and those that involve vectors, known as flux. When doing scalars, this is equivalent to finding the mass of a 2D surface. Refer back to my surface area post.
Imagine a storm grate in a lake. The lake has currents, as the water isn't perfectly still. The flux measures how much water flows through the cage per unit time. A positive flux means that water is flowing out (it's a source), while a negative flux means that water is flowing in (it's a sink).
Now, imagine that the current goes parallel to the surface of the cage. The flux must be 0, because the current does not go into the region. So, if the current is perpendicular to the normal, the flux must be 0. Also, if the current goes directly in or out, it should have the greatest magnitude. The ideal function for this is the dot product!