I ordered my current pickup new in 07 - automatic was the ONLY option. Granted, I bought a Tundra not a Dodge. This was my first automatic pickup. It is OK but the worst part is the traction nanny. That is about worthless on the farm.
When I owned the bus company I had both autos and 4x2 set ups. I always put new drivers in autos and let them switch if they wanted to after a few months. I wanted the chance to see whether they drove a standard everyday and how they treated it when the left the lot. My favorite bus was a sub with a 4x2. I cringed when it left the lot with some folks. I knew the clutch would weight a pound less when it returned. Funny, though, the drivers fought to be able to drive a manual unit. If your first clutch lasted less than 18 months you got booted to automatic. Most drivers never had their clutch replaced at all. A clutch might be a wear item, but I have never replaced a clutch on anything that I drove (that wasn't wore out when I got it). You shouldn't need to as far as I am concerned.
I think everyone should learn it. Later today I need to move some things to another spot. The other half won't drive the big tractor because "it is to big and I might hit something" and can't drive the grain truck because it is a 4x2 and doesn't know manual. I am left making two trips to get the tractor and truck where I want them. I have even tired the "you can't hurt the old truck" speech. Doesn't work.
Who doesn't want a chance at driving that nice piece of iron? The neighbors don't call it the chick magnet for nothin'!